If you haven’t heard the news yet, crane operators are soon going to be required to pass certification exams in order to operate their equipment. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires that all crane operators be certified and that employers pay for any training and test fees. The certification addresses causes of worker accidents such as electrocution, being crushed and/or struck by the equipment, and falls.

UPDATE as of July 26th, 2017: An OSHA Advisory Panel recently recommended extending the compliance deadline by one year to November 2018. On July 20, 2017, OSHA published updates expected in the next six months for the Crane Operator Qualification in Construction in the semiannual federal Regulatory Agenda. OSHA will still need to take several steps for this 12-month extension to become official, so check back for more updates, or visit the ISA Crane Operator Certification Page.

The certification is required for any piece of equipment having a maximum (rated) capacity greater than 2,000 lbs., and for any piece of equipment used to hoist, lower, or horizontally move a load. Even if your shop never moves or loads anything over the weight limit your operators still need certification based on what the equipment can handle. For sign shops, this is most likely a boom truck, mobile truck crane, or articulating crane.

Although training is not required, passing the certification exam is very difficult without it. There are also limited accredited organizations that can offer training and testing, so this is not something you will want to procrastinate on. Not having your employees certified can result in fines over $12,000.

Planning ahead will enable your business to get the training and certification needed while minimally disrupting staff and workflow. The International Sign Association (ISA) has a great FAQ page and printable checklist to help you plan for the new rule before November. They also offer webinars so that you can get experts to answer any specific questions you may have.